A visit to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., was a life-changing experience for Janna Hoehn.
Since seeing the memorial eight years ago, Hoehn has embarked on a personal mission to further recognize the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and died for America. She’s working to compile pictures of every U.S. soldier who died during the war and is making significant progress.
To date, Hoehn says she has spearheaded efforts to gather more than 53,000 photos of the 58,315 names etched on the Vietnam Wall.
“Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the wall,” said Hoehn, who was raised in California and is a current Hawaii resident. “It keeps memories alive for our fallen heroes. It’s something that will honor them and ensure their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
There are 13 Warren County soldiers recognized as being killed in action in Vietnam. Hoehn has pictures of all of them except for one, Johnny L. Whiteaker (1948-68).
“I’m asking for the community’s support and asking anyone who has a picture of him to send it to me,” said Hoehn, 62. “The Vietnam War took place during my entire high school career so it really had an impact on me.”
Anyone with a photo of Whiteaker can submit it to Hoehn at email@example.com. She says stories like this one have been published in more than 500 newspapers nationwide and been tremendously effective.
“The response has been amazing,” said Hoehn. “I have collected over 6,000 photos since 2011. I’m taking one state at a time, moving west to east. I’ve helped complete the states of Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas and Hawaii. I’m very close on several others.”
All photos will be used on the Wall of Faces online memorial on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website. Hoehn says the much bigger project is building an Education Center that will be adjacent to the Vietnam Wall with an estimated $100 million cost. Once built, all the photos will be on display there.
“Museums are incredibly expensive to build,” said Hoehn. “We haven’t received any money from the government for this. It’s all been through private donations, just like the money raised to build the Vietnam Wall.”
Hoehn says she recently received a $10 million private donation for the Education Center, bringing the total raised to $50 million. She has held four fundraisers herself and raised right at $92,000. She hopes to have the $100 million secured to start construction in the next two years.
For more information about the Education Center or to make a donation, go to: www.vvmf.org/thewall.